Tag: protection

When Is It Appropriate to Leave a Marriage if Your Spouse Does Not Contribute Financially or Emotionally and Has No Intention of Doing So Due to a Sense of Entitlement From Their Upbringing?

This is a very hard question to answer honestly and sincerely, though at first blush, it may not appear that way.

There are very good reasons to divorce in certain situations. There are also many convenient excuses people who just don’t want to be in a marriage anymore can give for seeking a divorce.

I am a divorce lawyer, and I hate divorce. I do not want to see people divorce unless they must. And far, far too many people divorce who need not have divorced and should not have divorced.

If we examine this kind of marriage through the lens of a business partnership (i.e., “we’re 50/50 partners”), then one partner is wholly justified in ending and leaving the partnership if the other partner does not do his/her fair share (50%) of the work and make his/her share of the sacrifices necessary to keep the venture afloat and to make it successful.

But marriage is not purely a partnership or quid pro quo but a solemn vow “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death . . . bound to each other through Jesus Christ our Lord, what’s mine is yours”.

The church of which I am a member (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) has this statement on divorce on its website:

When men and women marry, they make solemn covenants with each other and with God. Every effort should be made to keep these covenants and preserve marriage. When divorce occurs, individuals have the obligation to forgive, lift, and help rather than to condemn.

This got me to thinking, “If that is true (and I accept it as true), wouldn’t it also be true that we don’t limit forgiveness, support, aid, and not condemning to ex-spouses? Indeed, a marriage in which spouses don’t forgive, lift, help, and not condemn is a marriage that is doomed to failure (whether it ends in divorce, or the couple just stays miserable for life).

The only teaching we have from Jesus himself about divorce is in Matthew 19, and the only ground for divorce he taught there was adultery. I’m no scholar of the scriptures, but I have to believe that adultery cannot be the only ground for divorce. Surely, for example, God does not expect one to stay married to a spouse who physically or sexually abuses him/her and/or the couple’s children, right?

In researching this question, I found this article from enlightening and clarifying on the subject (note: the bold portions are my emphasis, not that of the author):

[From the Catechism] “If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, [then] it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense.”

This is the first mention of civil law. Civil law is the recourse that citizens have from their government to secure certain legal protections. As we see from the Catechismthose protections can be accessed via civil divorce if they are the “only possible way” of ensuring very specific legal rights. It helps to think of civil divorce as a “protective legal maneuver” rather than an actual severing of marriage. Why? Because Catholics may never use civil divorce with the intent to end their marriage (which, as we’ve seen, is neither moral nor possible).

If a Catholic approaches a civil court for civil divorce with the intent of ending his marriage, then he commits a grave offense. To claim to break the marital contract, either in civil court or otherwise, is precisely what Christ forbade. Again, to use the words of the Catechism, it is immoral, it is gravely harmful, and it is traumatizing to the abandoned spouse and children. It is the very thing that “introduces disorder into the family and into society.”

We must remember that those who complete a civil divorce—whether for licit or illicit reasons—are still very much, in reality, married.

Here’s an example of how this distinction plays out in real life:

A dear friend of mine saw no other possible option but to file for civil divorce from her husband of many years, specifically to get physical and financial protection for herself and her children in a dire situation. There was simply no other mechanism in the civil law that could be used to secure those protections. My friend, whom I accompanied to court, would be the first to tell you that she was in no way claiming to break the marriage contract by approaching for a civil divorce.

Nor was she in any way thinking of “moving on” from her marriage, which in her mind (rightly) could never be “ended” by a civil court. She still prays for her husband’s redemption (matrimony is one of two sacraments ordered toward the salvation of the other [CCC 1534]) and the eventual restoration of her family.

Why is it necessary to be so clear about the distinction between divorce (a grave sin) and “civil divorce” (as a tolerable legal maneuver)? Because confusion surrounding this issue leads countless well-meaning but misguided Catholics to advise their hurting friends that it’s okay to civilly divorce when they are unhappy in their marriages—even absent the narrow conditions the Church requires for civil divorce to be tolerable, and quite often with the intent that the unhappy friend should “move on.”

But with even Catholic families shattering all around us, we must never be afraid to say that the act of approaching the civil court with the intent to break the marriage contract and “end the marriage” is always gravely immoral. Such civil divorces are not tolerable nor permissible, yet even otherwise faithful Catholics are routinely obtaining them. By contrast, accessing civil courts when there is no other possible way to get very specific legal protections is “tolerable” and permitted — but with hope for the repentance and healing necessary for potential resumption of the conjugal life, even if that possibility seems remote.

So, if you read this far and still, in your own mind, don’t have an answer to your question, my answer to it, in my opinion, is this: If your husband is shamelessly exploiting your labor and your goodwill, then he’s not a spouse, he’s a parasite. Worse, he’s a deplorable example to your own impressionable children of what a husband and spouse should be. It’s one thing if a spouse cannot work to support the family, but choosing to mooch off of one’s spouse is indefensible. If, after giving your husband the opportunity to take real, substantial steps toward cleaning up his act, he will not commit to breaking his bad habits, will not commit to being equally yoked with you to support the family (this does not mean each you must work precisely the same number of hours and do the same number of dishes, obviously, but that each of you does his/her best as a spouse), you are justified in divorcing him.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

(12) When is it appropriate to leave a marriage if your spouse does not contribute financially or emotionally and has no intention of doing so due to a sense of entitlement from their upbringing? – Mother-in-Law Mysteries and Conflicts – Quora

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Have you ever thought someone was making a mistake by getting a divorce?

Many a time.

I am a divorce lawyer, but I wouldn’t wish divorce upon anyone except those who need to divorce to escape abuse, cruelty and other truly unbearable circumstances, and betrayal (if trust is irreparably broken).

Some people need to divorce. It’s good that the option for divorce exists for their protection.

Others who think divorce is the solution to their problem(s) are sadly mistaken. For these people divorce does not solve any problem and just creates a host of new problems.

Most people who divorce didn’t need to. If they would work on bettering themselves (both of them trying to be the kind of spouse they want and need) and then turn their attention to bettering the marriage, most marriages could be happy ones. Not perfect ones (there is no such thing), but happy, worthwhile marriages. This takes effort and sacrifice, and patience and trial and error, but the results are still better than a needless divorce.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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What is the safest way to break up with an abusive partner?

What is the safest way to break up with an abusive partner? I heard many horror stories and afraid I might be next.

While there is no one “proper” way to break up with an What is the safest way to break up with an abusive partner,

Robert McQueeney’s answer on this thread is a good one:

The safest way? When the opportunity presents itself, never put material belongings over your life. Just leave. Don’t waste time packing everything, just take what you need and go, immediately. Grab any important papers, of course.

Ghost your way out of there. Change jobs, change locations, shucks, change states if you have to. Change your phone, ghost your way out of any social media.

Don’t say anything to him, get real devious with your life, it may well depend on it. Don’t try to get any satisfaction of telling your partner to their face that you are out of there. Just leave and do it quickly and expediently.

Furthermore, I’d add two things:

  1. Don’t expect the legal system to be much, if any, help to you in the process. The legal system was not designed to help you in this situation as well and as fast as you can help yourself. Don’t try to vindicate yourself through the legal system. Work out your problems without involving the legal system any more than you must. It’s slow, expensive, and not consistently fair. Don’t break the law, but don’t expect the legal system to help you. Help yourself.
  2. Be prepared to pay the costs associated with breaking free. You may have to leave personal property behind because it may prove too hard to slip away with the stuff that’s rightfully yours. If you have to change your job and residence, you may take a hit on your pay and end up in crappier lodgings as you re-build. Understand that this is for most the cost of freedom and peace of mind—and that’s worth the cost.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Dividing Military Pensions and Benefits

Most divorces are complicated by nature. Throw in the fact that one or more of the divorcing parties is a military service member, or has military benefits, and the divorce becomes really complicated.

Fortunately, the Uniform Service Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA)(i) addresses some military related issues such as service member’s military retirement pay, service member’s Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), service member spouses’ access to commissary and exchange, and service member spouses’ access to healthcare benefits. It is important to note that the USFSPA does not automatically confer any of these benefits to a military service member’s spouse upon divorce. The USFSPA is guidelines that allow states to treat disposable military retired pay (more on this in a moment) benefits as marital property according to the state in which the divorce is filed.

A little note about jurisdiction: before starting any divorce action, you must know if the court in which you are planning to file for divorce has jurisdiction over your divorce case. If you are uncertain of your desired court’s jurisdiction over your divorce action, consult a good attorney first.

In the State of Utah military retirement benefits accrued in whole or in part during the marriage are divisible.(ii) This means that courts in Utah treat disposable military pensions just as they would any pension or retirement benefit from any other employer.

What is disposable vs. non-disposable military retired pay? For tax purposes, some military service members have the option of waiving a portion of their military retired pay in order to receive non-taxable Veteran’s Administration (“VA”) disability compensation. The gross amount of gross disposable retirement compensation that can be split in a divorce action is reduced.(iii) This can be a headache for courts when trying to divide military retirement pay. Before you try to exploit this potential option, consider that some courts will try to bring the divorcing parties to a financial position where they were before waiving military retirement pay. On the other hand, the courts may also look at a spouse’s waiving of military retirement pay as way of fraudulently attempting to avoid divorce decree obligations. In either case, it is very important to consult go good attorney before attempting to change the way you receive your military retirement pay and other benefits.

You can download a PDF version of the USFSPA manual by clicking this link or by going here:

Utah Family Law, LC | 801-466-9277 |

(i) 10 U.S.C. 1408: The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (
(ii) Utah Code § 30-3-5 and Green v. Green, 751 P.2d 827 (Utah Ct. App 1988)
(iii) See Mansell v. Mansell, 490 U.S. 581 (1989) (holding that former spouses cannot be awarded any portion of waived disability compensation)

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